Understanding elements of muscle plasticity

The Laboratory for Muscle Plasticity at Balgrist University Hospital, Switzerland, investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms of clinical muscle plasticity

In this booklet about muscle plasticity, Professor Martin Flück PhD, of Balgrist University Hospital, discusses at length the various methods by which the laboratory is working towards a personalised approach to musculoskeletal health.

What’s the focus of the research?

The strategic aim of the Laboratory for Muscle Plasticity is to expose the molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning muscle affections in clinical situations ranging from simple exertion-induced muscle soreness to tendon and ligament injury, and musculoskeletal disease, and more so their reversion with surgery and rehabilitation.

There is a major focus on patient groups which could benefit from an improvement in muscle function, along with a further assessment on musculoskeletal health and quality of life.

Flück explains: ‘Soft tissues (muscle, tendon and ligaments) demonstrate a grade capacity to respond to the impact of external stimuli with molecular and cellular adjustments that improve their capacity to withstand the original impact.

‘The diagnostic assessment of the adaptive potential of muscles provides indications on how bottlenecks in the current therapy of musculoskeletal defects can be overcome. The aim is to provide impetus for innovating surgical and rehabilitative approaches that maximise adaptive stimuli and processes for the handicapped individual.’

Tackling muscle health during rehabilitation

Also within this booklet, Flück outlines gene therapy and the way in which it can be used to accelerate muscle healing after an Achilles tendon rupture. Injuries to the Achilles tendon are relatively common and affect an estimated seven per 100,000 subjects in the general population.

Flück further discusses the healing period and the financial and social impact it has on the individual, the overall goal of the research being to determine the effectiveness of gene therapy to halt muscle atrophy.

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